AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-M60X ON-EAR HEADPHONES
The M60x packages up all the great bits of the M50x in a smaller broadcast-ready package.
Review: Mark Davie
There’s still a lot of debate about exactly how much the pinna of the ear contributes to our sensation of sound, but Audio-Technica’s M50x/M60x comparison makes for an interesting exercise.
The two pairs of headphones have exactly the same low impedance 45mm driver, which provides deep bass and detailed sound over a 15Hz-28kHz frequency range. The main difference between the two is the M50x is over-ear, while the M60x is an on-ear design.
Given the similarity of source, it was fascinating how different the two experiences are. In the over-ears, where your entire ear is part of the listening experience, widely panned sounds felt like they had a bit more space to develop and sounded like they were coming from further afield. Perhaps, simply because the pinna is helping me locate those sounds better?
I do have weirdly-shaped ears for on-ear headphones — read, small ears. It turns the M60xs into slightly smaller over-ears, where they sit half over and half on. Still, the sound is less direct on the M50xs, even though the ears pads on the M60xs are technically keeping the drivers further away from my ear canals. Generally, I felt less enveloped in the sound scape of the M60xs.
So, why would you want on-ears? Well, there’s a whole host of reasons we need headphones, all to do with purpose. While I love the fold-up design of the M50xs, that’s not always convenient when you need to whip them on and off in a hurry. The main benefit of on-ears is they give you a good mix of isolation and ambient sound. They don’t pump out your audio to your environment like open-back headphones, and they also don’t completely close you off to it like over-ears; great for broadcast applications and checking elements in a live scenario without shutting out the mix.
The build is also a little more robust than the M50s, which is saying a lot. I’ve owned a few pairs of M50s over the years that have seen tons of abuse. I’ve only lost one pair of M50 daily drivers in that time, and that was when the older plastic foldable part of the original design failed after years of being wrenched in and out of bags.
The M60xs don’t fold or rotate the earcups, but the one plastic connection in an otherwise metal-centric construction is also the thickest connecting piece on the headband. It’s almost a third lighter, with a much thinner headband, and it’s a very wearable design with push-pull size adjustment that stays fixed when you want it to.
Other than that, you still get all the same great features of the M50x, like three included removable coiled and straight cables, and an affordable price for the level of quality.
If you need that balance of direct and ambient sound in your headphones and already appreciate the sound of the estimable M50s, look nowhere else.
In short order, Audio-Technica has also released the BPHS2 broadcast headset range. The standard version is based on the M60x design, but adds a hyper cardioid dynamic headset mic to the unit. It’s mounted on a rigid boom with a flexible goose neck. There’s also the BPHS2S single-ear variant, and the BPHS2C, which is a cardioid condenser mic version. All the models come with a 3.3m detachable cable terminated with a TA6F connector at the headset, and 3-pin XLRM and 1/4-inch connectors at the other end. Prices start at $499.